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Customer Service – the one thing you need to remember

I was hungry. It was time for lunch, and I didn’t have anything to eat. I discovered a bakery close by, and I decided to buy a bun with cheese. I’m not picky, not at all. But, as I talked to the woman behind the counter, I realized that they didn’t have anything without meat. I’m a vegetarian, and I asked her politely if she could make a bun for me with something, well, something not meat.


She smiled and said; of course. It was the perfect reaction, and this was an experience of great customer service, sort of like I expect it to be.

She turned around and walked into the room next door, and started to make my lunch. I was happy and I was content.

But, as I turned to my right, I discovered that more people had entered the bakery, and were anxious, waiting to order their lunch. Some of them were looking at me, and as even more people entered, I was hearing someone talking about me and were asking; why did he have to order. This takes forever.

I turned to my left, and I tried to look outside, instead of looking at the people next to me. I tried not to listen to what they were saying. And, as the woman appeared behind the counter, with her big smile, I wasn’t as happy as I was the last time I looked at her. I was a bit embarrassed.

I walked out of the bakery without looking at any of the people inside. I walked out thinking that I wasn’t hungry anymore.

The woman had been kind, and she did close to everything right, and her customer service, towards me, was perfect. But, because she hadn’t paid attention to what was happening in the store, that a lot of people had entered, she didn’t control the situation. Her smile and the food was perfect. But, when we talk about customer service, we need to focus on one thing.

Customer service is all about THE FEELING.

If the customer doesn’t feel that whatever we’re doing is right. It doesn’t matter if everything is close to perfect. It’s the feeling that matters. If you feel happy, then you’re happy. We’re creating relationships, and trust. But, it’s only when we understand that customer service is mere a feeling, that we can be truly successful.

14 responses to “Customer Service – the one thing you need to remember”

  1. Dan says:

    I call foul….She did everything she could to accomodate you. Unfortunately, she cannot bend space and time and backup of people was created. They became disgruntled and projected their dislike of waiting on you (rightfully so). You in turn attempted to project your feelings of illwill upon the very person who by your account made you request happen. You just did not like the outcome of your request and as so many younger people these days are unwilling to won the responsibility of the situation you created. Sorry, but if you want to be unique be prepared to be thick skined.

    • Hi Dan,

      Thank you so much for your feedback. I really appreciate it. The situation wasn’t that complicated, and I don’t feel that I was treated bad in any way. I am thick skinned and I don’t get irritated. I am happy and I will return to the bakery. It might have been a bad example. But my point was to focus on that the main outcome of customer service is a feeling, and not just the perfect product. The customer should be happy, that’s it. And happiness is a feeling. That was what I tried to say 🙂

  2. Adrienne says:

    I think Jens that she serviced you and made your experience the best it could be. Now everyone else coming in and and being impatient is their problem not yours. She can’t control how others feel because she’s handling one customer at a time. We all are only one person and if she was working there by herself then I’m sure she was doing the best she can.

    I believe that customer service is about how I’m handled and how I’m serviced. How I feel walking away from that experience of being taken care of.

    I hope you’ll go back to that bakery because it sounds to me that she went above and beyond to make you happy. That’s what customer service is all about.


    • You’re absolutely right Adrienne. It wasn’t her fault and I will be back. But, I’m trying to focus on the main point of customer service, and that’s to bring a happy feeling to the customer and not just the perfect product. It’s really hard.

  3. Jorge says:

    I fully agree with you about the feeling.
    My questions to you are:
    – have you become a loyal customer? Or just one-time customer?
    Just looking at the situation, creating a feeling that does not create repetitiveness is probably not a big success, and your feeling was not so great, not so complete.

    – do you think, the woman in the counter really did a good customer service from a holistic approach? One customer was happy for a minute, then felt embarrased, and all the other customers were unhappy

    From my point of view, this is a good example of getting a satisfied customer, but not creating (even damaging) loyal customers.

    The key for success is getting loyal customers with standard solutions through feelings, sure, but repetitiveness as well

  4. I don’t want top appear to pile on but I have to agree with Dan. I call B.S.!

    The bakery lady cannot control other peoples actions and reactions to YOU, and her own actions and reactions.

    I have two questions for you.

    1. Did you ever work at a CS job (not on the web, face-to-face; e.g. retail etc.), and if so what was your role and for how long did you do it?

    2. What would you recommend that the bakery lady should have done?

    Love to hear your answers!

    Thanks, DC

    • Hi Darrell,

      Thank you so much for your feedback. I really appreciate it. Yes, I have worked in customer service, face to face. My point in writing this post, was not to say that the woman did something wrong, but to say what the most important part of customer service is.

      I’m saying that the most important part is providing the customer with the right feeling. And, that’s very hard to do, and sometimes it’s impossible. It all depends on who the customer is and how well you know the customer.

      For me, in this specific situation, it would be better if she had smiled, treated me nice and told me that unfortunately she was alone and couldn’t manage to help me and all the other people. But, like I said, my point is not that she did something wrong. My point is that customer service is about giving the customer the happy feeling and not just the perfect product.

      Thanks again for your feedback Darrell.

      • Jens,

        Thanks for the thoughtful feedback. I’m a thirty-year CS veteran and I can tell you, from my perspective and experience, I would NEVER recommend that one of my employees tell a customer that they could nop help them because of a crowd.

        Rather, their focus should be on the customer in front of them, to satisfy that individual’s request with the best humor and ability that they can muster. The next customer should receive – and deserves – the same. An apology for a slight delay may be in order but nothing else.

        People, decent people, will willingly wait for that kind of CS, AND they will return for it. If the other customers gave you the uncomfortable feeling (please don’t take offense) look inward not outward.

        All the best!


        • It’s more complicated than that. It was not just the other customers. They were complaining that the woman took a long time. They were complaining about her job, and they said that I should have known better than to order what I ordered.

          I’m not saying that there’s a right or wrong answer in this specific situation. It probably is, but that’s not my point. My point is to focus on the feeling the customer will end up with and not just the product. Too many people are doing the job “perfect”, but they’re not managing to bring a happy feeling to the customer.

          It’s hard to explain, especially since I’m Norwegian and English is not my first language. But I’m doing my best 🙂

  5. Jens,

    Since you put it that way I stop being the typical pushy American and drop it!

    Let’s just agree that CS, really effective CS, is hard, and people who have never worked in a CS position like you and I have are not very forgiving when their is a hiccup.

    Gotta give everyone a chance!

    Have a great day!


    • I agree. Really effective CS is very hard. I’ve experienced that many times, especially when I was working at the University. What I was trying to say is that what we’re trying to accomplish is to make the customer happy, that’s it. And happiness is a feeling. It’s not just about providing the perfect product.

      Thank you so much for the interesting discussion. I’ve really enjoyed it.

  6. Me too! CS and animals, always gets my blood moving!

    Talk with you again soon.


  7. Carolyn says:

    Hi Jens, Perhaps she was slow? How long could it have taken to assemble a sandwich without meat? Perhaps she merely needed some training in doing her job faster.

    To have refused your request when no one else was in the store would have been insensitive. She should have made your meal quickly and moved on to the next customer with a smile.

    The true solution would be to have some vegetarian options available for all customers. After your vegetarian festival, the demand will be much greater!

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